Showing posts with label 14thamendment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 14thamendment. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Liberal Diversity Law Keeps Minority Students From Receiving a Decent Education

Sources: Pacific Legal Foundation, Data USA: Hartford, CT, Sheff v. O’Neill Settlement, Hartford Courant

The ongoing case of Robinson v. Wentzell contests a Connecticut law that imposes race based quotas on Hartford magnet schools. The city of Hartford runs several world class magnet schools that are in such high demand that a lottery, run by the state’s Regional School Choice Office, is used to determine which applicants can attend these schools. However, there is a catch. Connecticut state law requires the student body of magnet schools to be at least 25% white and asian and no more than 75% black and hispanic, even if it means some seats in these schools remain empty. This is a problem in Hartford, CT where only 15.4% of the population is white, and a measly 2.6% are asian. On the other hand, over 35% of the population is black and close to 45% of the population is hispanic. Thus, the lottery is deliberately rigged in favor of white and asian applicants.

Checking the race and ethnicity of students at the front of waitlists — welcoming them if they are white; denying them seats if they are black or Latino — may be the most startling piece of the magnet-school selection process. But it is not the only way the system suppresses minority enrollment in high-performing Sheff schools.

This is perhaps another example of the law of unintended consequences at work. The law in question stemmed from a 1996 state supreme court decision in Sheff v. O’Neill holding that all school children should have substantially equal educational opportunities and urging the legislature to curb racial segregation and discrimination in public schools. As a result, the Connecticut General Assembly passed and then governor John Rowland enacted Act 97-290, which put into motion several recommendations made by the governor’s Education Improvement Panel including the creation of 8 interdistrict magnet schools in Hartford and a mandate that at least 25% of the students enrolled in these schools be white or asian. The law was intended to reduce racial segregation but it has had the opposite effect by denying minority children in the applicant pool admission and keeping them in segregated, woefully underfunded neighborhood schools. Even some of the plaintiffs to the original sheff case have turned against the law that resulted from it.

"I do not think that a child has to sit next to any specific type of child or race of child or religion of child to get a good education. So those seats are empty? Fill them up!" said Best, who was a young mother when she and her daughter Neiima signed on as plaintiffs. "Let's think out of the box and let's just say, 'OK, we tried this. We offered this. Now who wants to come here?' And fill up the seats."

This is not the first time that liberal policies have backfired on the minority groups they were meant to help. It happens more often than most people notice. The same liberals championing affirmative action on college campuses also admit that it disproportionately benefits white women. If that is so, why keep it around? Women already out number men nearly 2 to 1 on college campuses. The war on drugs was just as much a liberal effort to clean up the inner city as it was an initiative of the Nixon admin. At its outset, it was supported by the congressional black caucus and high profile liberal politicians like Nelson Rockefeller, Jerry Brown, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton etc. And yet liberals today tell us that enforcement of the Controlled Substances Acts disproportionately harms minority communities and that the laws are racist. The same could be said of the current liberal effort to legalize pot. Although not as overtly authoritarian as the war on drugs, it is by all measures an attempt to tighten state control over what people can put in their own bodies, and as an unintended side effect black people are still twice as likely to be arrested for cultivating cannabis.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Baltimore Police Task Force Robbed Suspects, Sold Drugs, and Planted Fake Guns On Innocent People

Among other crimes.

Source: The Baltimore Sun

The ongoing trial of two Baltimore police officers, detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, has revealed a plethora of shocking testimony from convicted cops and other witnesses about the crimes of a specific unit of the Baltimore Police Department known as the Gun Trace Task Force. Eight police officers and one bail bondsman have been implicated in crimes ranging from burglary via warrantless searches of the property of drug dealers to racketeering and drug trafficking. Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who pleaded guilty in a federal racketeering case, was the supervisor of the task force. According to bail bondsman Donald Stepp, Jenkin’s partner in crime, the task force was set up for the sole purpose of covering up their criminal activity.

Stepp said Jenkins told him the Gun Trace Task Force was a group he had hand-picked to be a “front for a criminal enterprise.” He also said there were other officers from other units working with Jenkins, but he did not name any on the witness stand.

Stepp’s role in this gang was to resell drugs that Jenkin’s squad had taken from dealers throughout Baltimore as well as assist Jenkins in robbing them of cash.

Baltimore County bail bondsman Donald C. Stepp, 51, said Sgt. Wayne Jenkins made near-nightly trips to Stepp’s home to drop off drugs, Stepp said. Jenkins has pleaded guilty in the case

Stepp said that in April 2015, during the riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray, Jenkins walked into Stepp’s garage carrying two garbage bags full of looted pharmaceutical drugs.

There is also a little mentioned detail about the task force carrying replica guns to plant on innocent people they might ‘accidentally’ kill during their crime spree. I would be willing to wager that this isn’t an isolated incident.

Ward said the unit’s supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, instructed the officers to carry replica guns to plant if they found themselves in a jam. Police recovered a replica gun from the glove box of Taylor’s vehicle after he was arrested last year. The gun, shown to jurors, is nearly indistinguishable from Taylor’s service pistol

I will continue to update this post as the trial is still ongoing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

America's Secret Police Unveiled (part 2)

Source: ACLU

In 2015, Xiaoxing Xi, a Chinese American physics professor at Temple University was falsely arrested by the FBI and indicted for espionage and wire fraud. The FBI alleged that Xi had violated a private non-disclosure agreement with Superconductor Technologies Inc. by sharing information about a pocket heater with some of his colleagues in China. However, his emails with his foreign colleagues didn't mention the pocket heater, but concerned a completely different technology that he himself invented. The charges against Xi were ultimately dropped, but the false criminal allegations still had repercussions on his reputation and career. As a result of the indictment, he was forced to take administrative leave and was suspended as interim chair for his department, which deprived him of his lab and students. The most disturbing part was not that he was punished for a crime he didn't commit, but how the FBI accessed his private exchanges in the first place. The FBI wiretapped his phone and probably subpoenaed his serive provider, using what is called a National Security Letter, to get a hold of his email exchanges, presumably with a gag order to prevent him from learning about the search. Some of these searches were also conduct with a warrant from a secret FISA court, however, EO12333 allowed the FBI to monitor Xi's communications without a warrant. As I explained in January, EO12333 allows federal law enforcement to access the communications of U.S. citizens that are 'inadvertently retieved' during the process of monitoring foreign communications, if they contain evidence of a crime or evidence that a crime will be committed. It's a curious thing that this far reaching measure was never used to stop major terrorist attacks like the one in NYC on Halloween day. That is what it is supposedly for, or does the FBI have a different purpose in mind?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Federal Agents Are The Modern Highwaymen

'The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber.....The proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves the government, are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman.'

-Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority VI

Sources: Forbes, Government Accountability Office, FOX40.COM

The cases I presented of law enforcment stealing from law abiding citizens in Police Use Civil Forfeiture To Rob Small Businesses and my earliest post on the subject, Civil Asset Forfeiture, Anti-Structuring Laws And Other Spawns of The War on Drugs, are not isolated incidents of officers making honest mistakes; rather, they are symptomatic of the law enforcement environment in this country. Civil forfeiture itself has created the perverse incentive to chase after property instead of solving and prosecuting crimes, which takes more effort and is more difficult. Humans have a natural tendency to try and get the most gratification out of the least amount of effort. Government officials are no different in this regard.

As previously reported in Civil Asset Forfeiture Is Theft Most of The Time: the DEA has seized a total of $4.15B in cash through civil asset forfeiture, in the past decade. 81% of that cash, or about $3.2B, was taken without charging anyone with a crime or allowing any judicial oversight. The DEA could not verify whether they had advanced a criminal investigation in more than half of these interdiction seizures, which they conducted without a warrant, that the DOJ sampled.

A similar report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that the IRS also seized assets mostly from innocent people in their criminal investigations of structuring violations. In a sample of 278 criminal investigations where the source of forfeiture funds could be determined, 91% of the investigations were conducted on businesses and people who obtained their money legally. They had their property taken solely for making multiple deposits under $10,000, violating a statute in the Bank Secrecy Act that few people know about. From 2012 to 2014, the IRS stole $17M from hundreds of small business owners solely because they made frequent deposits and withdrawals under $10,000.

But the DEA and the IRS aren't the only culprits in this mass robbery. According to a GAO report from 2014, DHS agencies such as ICE and CBP took $3.6B in property and cash, through civil forfeiture, from 2003 to 2013. This was the majority of the $7B taken by all federal law enforcement agencies during the decade. ICE contributed the majority of assets from DHS to the Treasury Forfeiture Fund by far. In the final year (2013), DHS took $1.1B in assets. Out of this total, ICE contributed $1B, which is about 91% of DHS forfeiture funds, the Secret Service contributed $52M and CBP contributed $51M.

Overall, civil forfeiture seizures have decreased a bit since 2014, but with Trump in the oval office we will likely see a resurgence in the practice under the pretext of 'law and order.' Not surprisingly, the very people who claim to advocate 'limited government' are the biggest champions of totalitarianism (when the government pushes their agenda) and the greatest enemies of property rights.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Police Use Civil Forfeiture To Rob Small Businesses

Sources:, Fox40 News, Channel 7 News Miami

We are told that civil forfeiture, theft by any other name, is used to take funds from criminal enterprises, but like all concessions to executive power, it's original intent, however well it might have been, has been perverted for the sake of revenue generation. What was originally given to police as a weapon to fight the war on drugs is inadvertently, or perhaps purposefully, used to steal capital from law abiding entrepreneurs for such specious reasons as making frequent deposits under $10,000, which according to the IRS is all the evidence they need to declare you a criminal and take your entire life savings. Simply being accused of a crime is enough to destroy some one else's livelihood, as is being related to a person who committed a crime regardless of whether they were actually involved in it.

Frank Ranelli owns a computer repair store in Homewood, Alabama. In June 2010, 20 Homewood and Mountain Brook police raided his business on the basis of single allegation that he had purchased a stolen laptop. In response, police confiscated 130 of his customers' computers, along with his company's servers and worker stations, and arrested him and his employees. Neither Frank nor any of his employees were ever prosecuted; in fact, the charges were dropped after he proved that he had followed the right protocol for purchasing the sole laptop that was allegedly stolen, but when all was said and done he was still punished for a crime he didn't commit.

According to the DOJ's annual report on equitable sharing payments, Alabama police confiscated $2.2M in assets in 2016. The state gives their residents almost no protections against civil forfeiture.

Wilson Colorado, a Florida resident, once had his own online startup. One day in May 2015, Wilson was filling out customer order forms when he heard a knock at the door. To his surprise it was the DEA. A confidential informant had accused Wilson of being a drug dealer. In response, the DEA agents promptly raided his house stealing $200,000 in checks and cash that he had earned through his online business. Even though the allegations turned out to be false, Wilson was still punished for a crime he did not commit; the $200,000 was never returned to him.

The Hirsch brothers jointly own Bi-Country Distributors, a whole sale distribution company that supplies convenience stores and delis in New York. In May 2012, the IRS seized their bank account for alleged structuring; they frequently made deposits under $10,000 dollars in the course of their business dealings. A common behavior of businesses that deal in cash is considered illegal under a little known provision in the Bank Secrecy Act. Jeff Hirsch offered to demonstrate his innocence by allowing the detective in charge of his case to scour through all of his business records, but the detective declined stating that the their pattern of deposits was all the evidence he needed to know they were guilty of something.

Carole Hinders, a cash only restaurant owner in Iowa suffered the same fate for alleged structuring, and so did Lyndon McLellan, a convenience store owner in North Carolina. The IRS took $33,000 from Hinders and $100,000 from McLellan respectively. Neither of them were charged or prosecuted for any crime. In fact, the investigation didn't go any further than accusing them of structuring.

How the IRS goes about investiagting structuring should be cause for alarm. The robbery is a joint effort between your local police department and federal agents, and they conduct dragnet searches of peoples' bank accounts to this end.

'First, local police officials working with the IRS’s Criminal Investigations Unit pore through bank records, identifying what they think are suspicious transactions. Then they show those transactions to a federal magistrate, who can authorize the IRS to seize the bank accounts. The federal agents then confiscate the money from the bank, show up at the owner’s place of business, and inform them they’ve lost control of their accounts. Under the federal government’s “equitable sharing” program, the local police and the IRS can then split the money between themselves.'

So whatever happened to the presumption of innocence, the pertinence of property rights, and everything else that's foundational and sacred to a constitutional republic? The police, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, punish citizens for crimes they did not commit (or at least haven't been proven to have committed) by depriving them of their property, in direct violation of the 5th amendment which states 'No person shall be....deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.' I'm pretty sure spurious accusations aren't 'due process', and neither is the specious claim that multiple bank deposits under an arbitrary amount imply criminal activity. The only criminal activity in these aforementioned cases is that of those robbers and murderers who call themselves 'law enforcement'.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pennsylvania DA Uses Civil Forfeiture Plunder For Campaign Ads

Courtesy of the Institute for Justice

It is common for police departments to use cash and property stolen through civil forfeiture as a slush fund to make extravagant purchases that aren't critical to their job, which seems to be robbery and murder nowadays, but the District Attorney of Delaware County, PA, Jack Whelan, has taken the practice to a new low, as if robbery isn't bad enough, by using the stolen funds to pay for relection campaign ads. According to City and State Pennsylvania, Whelan spent $53,000 to advertise himself for both the Republican and Democratic judicial primaries, so he could run unopposed in the election. That money didn't come out of his own pocket or from campaign donations, rather it was taken from taxpayers and civil forfeiture victims. Whelan claims these ads were a continuation of his public service campaign dicouraging the straw purchases of fire arms, but as IJ points out, Whelan increased ad purchases 540% 2 months before the election; in the previous year, his office spent a much smaller sum of $6,250 on these public service ads. Undoubtedly, the residents of Delaware county are impervious to his schemes and the incumbent DA will more than likely keep his office. As we all know too well, robbery tends to be cyclical.

'In other words, District Attorney Whelan is using money taken from his constituents (and anyone visiting Delaware County) to promote his reelection to an office that will allow him to continue taking from his constituents (and anyone visiting Delaware County).'

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

America's Secret Police Unveiled (part 1)

Federal Programs Fund Secret Stingray Spying

Source: Tenth Amendment Center

For those unfamiliar with this topic, stingray devices or cell site simulators are used to track cellphones. They do this by mimicking cell phone towers prompting phones nearby to connect to them. In practice, they are tools for dragnet surveillance, and some are even configured to pickup communication data from phone calls and text messages. Back in December of last year, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reforms released a report revealing that state and local police purchase and operate cell site simulator devices, known as stingrays, in secret. The report titled Law Enforcement Use of Cell-Site Simulation Technologies: Privacy Concerns and Recommendations also identifies several federal grant programs that state and local law enforcement use to purchase the devices. The bulk of the funding for stingrays comes from DHS, which allows police to receive grants administered by FEMA. Funding from DHS only totals $1.8 million, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The report indicates that several other grant programs exist specifically for purchasing stingray devices including State Homeland Security Program, Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, Citizen Corps Program, and the Intercity Passenger Rail Program. The committee's investigation, which was conducted using a sample of 4 major cities and 2 states, identified two law enforcement agencies that used DHS funding to purchase their sting ray devices, namely the Baltimore PD and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The DOJ was also implicated in providing cell site simulators to state agencies, although they supposedly play a very limited role, and in their own words do not generally fund stingray purchases. But this is indeterminate. The real question is not who provides these stingray devices, but how are they used? The latter cannot be answered since the FBI along with the manufacturers of these devices require law enforcement agencies to sign non-disclosure agreements as part of the TOS. The non-disclosure agreements are strict. They forbid police departments from revealing any information about their purchase or use to the public even in criminal trials.

The Committee’s investigation found that those state and local entities that do purchase a cell-site simulator frequently sign non-disclosure agreements with two entities, the company selling the device, and the FBI. In addition to the publicly available versions of the nondisclosure agreements the Committee also obtained copies of non-disclosure agreements between the FBI and various state and local jurisdictions. As explained more fully below, these non-disclosure agreements actively prohibit the public from learning about the use or role that a cell-site simulator may play in a state or local criminal investigation

One of the manufacturers included in its terms and conditions of a sale language that the purchaser “shall not disclose, distribute, or disseminate any information regarding Customer’s purchaser or use of” the equipment “to the public in any manner, including but not limited to: in press releases, in court documents and/or proceedings, internet or during other public forums or proceedings.

The implications of this policy are far reaching. Police departments across the country could conduct warrantless surveillance within their jurisdiction and the public would be none the wiser. If the police are prohibited from mentioning these devices even in court proceedings and documents, it must be assumed this includes probable cause affidavits and pre-trial court hearings. If that is the case, then police would be more or less obliged to either omit evidence obtained through stingray surveillance or use parallel structuring to account for the evidence they obtained. Usually, they would have the incentive to do the latter. Of course, the ramifications here are two-fold. Even if the data police gather isn't used in court, it will more than likely end up in an FBI or DHS database (since these agencies are behind the non-disclosure agreements in the first place). Regardless of how this turns out, police that operate in secret always put liberty in peril. Transparency and public scrutiny are fundamental to republican government; without them a nation descends into despotism.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Supreme Court Upholds Presumption of Innocence For Defendants Acquitted On Appeal

Some Good News For A Change

Source: Institute for Justice

Yesterday, in Nelson v. Colorado, the Supreme court struck down a Colorado statute that didn’t allow people to recover funds seized through court fees, restitution,and costs assessed against them after their conviction was reversed on appeal, unless they proved their innocence in court. The case arose from a petition from Shannon Nelson, who was originally convicted of sexual assault in 2006 and forced to pay court fees and restitution, before her conviction was overturned in a 2013 retrial. When she was acquitted, she sought a refund of the money taken as a result of court fees and restitution, but was denied a refund on the basis that the trial court did not have the authority to compel the state to return the funds to her. The statute was an obvious violation of the presumption of innocence, one of the foundational principles of our criminal justice system, and the due process clause of the 14th amendment. The majority opinion, delivered by Justice Ginsburg, held that Colorado's Exoneration Act created a risk of erroneous deprivation of a defendant's property and that Colorado may not presume a person, adjudged guilty of no crime, guilty enough for monetary exactions. The dissenting opinion came from Justice Clarence who disagreed with the use of the ruling in Matthews v. Eldridge as a persuasive precedent in the case. The 7-1 decision could have future implications for civil asset forfeiture and lead to its undoing.